Back in 2009, OSHA introduced a policy of making any companies known that commit a serious violation of its laws and regulations. A violation would have to lead to a fine of $40,000 or more to qualify as serious, and the company would have a press released issued about it. Arizona residents should know that though the policy was discontinued in 2017, some are calling for its restoration.
One study, conducted by an economist at Duke University, showed just how effective the press releases were in reducing workplace violations and, with it, injuries and deaths. The economist found that after a company had a press release done on it, similar companies in a 5-kilometer radius saw a 73% reduction in workplace violations. Those in a 10-kilometer radius saw a 36% reduction, and companies in a 50-kilometers radius still saw a significant 30% decrease.
The economist notes that the decrease in neighboring companies was especially high when the penalized company featured in the local news media. It appears that the press releases really did create a “regulation of shaming,” as OSHA’s then-administrator stated that it should. Companies are encouraged to boost their safety compliance so that they themselves do not receive bad publicity. Without press releases, OSHA would need to conduct 210 inspections before it could equal this positive outcome.
As for workers who are injured on the job, they may file for benefits under workers’ compensation law; fortunately, unlike with a personal injury claim, they do not have to prove the other side’s negligence to be eligible. On the other hand, it could be that the company was in compliance with all safety standards and that workers themselves were at fault for their injuries. In such cases, victims may want a lawyer to help them file the claim and mount any appeals.